When Rosie Madison and her husband, Matthew Armitage, were looking for a new home, this much was certain – it had to be large enough to accommodate and display their eclectic collection of antique treasures and unusual artefacts from their trips across the world.
“My husband and I love travelling, so we have pieces from our travels,” Rosie says. “My favourite place for antiques is India. There is a place in Mumbai that is filled with shops, from top to bottom, just spilling with antiques, and you think, oh my gosh, this is just heaven. One of the paintings in the office was £1 – it was just lying on the side of the street.”
Rosie, from Halifax, is a breakfast show presenter on Pulse 1 Radio, while Matt works for Yorkshire Water, and they have a bald Sphynx cat called Keith and a rescue greyhound called Dorothy. Two years ago, they moved from Chapel Allerton in Leeds to a five-bedroom, three-storey Edwardian terrace in Harrogate and immediately embarked on an extensive renovation project.
They barely knew the town but fell in love with it, and appreciated the house’s original features and its potential. Rosie says: “I like to restore houses to something like their original form, and with the building in mind. There’s no point in putting in, say, a maroon kitchen, because it might not be right for the house.”
They knocked through two rooms to make their kitchen-dining room and, on the top floor, turned two smaller attic bedrooms into one room. “My husband is six foot four and I am six foot two and it was laughable because, when we walked inside the bedrooms, we couldn’t actually stand up,” she says. “My husband is quite handy so if I have the ideas, he’s quite good at putting them into practice.”
Matthew and Rosie had renovated former homes, but this was a challenge. “It had to go back to the bones,” Rosie says. “We took off the ceiling paper in the living room. You think, that paper was literally holding that ceiling up. One night we were in bed and we heard this giant boom and went downstairs and… ah, the ceiling’s down.”
Rosie is also an artist and the house is filled with many of her striking original artworks, mainly acrylic on paper. In the kitchen there is a huge portrait, painted when she was 18 at Brighouse High School, of her father, Dave Widdison, who now lives with her mum, Andrea, near Ripon. Rosie says: “He encouraged the art thing. He said, you should do this, if people are calling out and asking for them.” So Rosie has her own website, HarrogateHouse.com, to sell her pictures. “There is a gap for crazy, bright, bold art that is accessible, and I thought, if I am looking for it, other people are as well,” she says. Treasure hunting to fill the house with antique and vintage finds is a joint interest for the couple, although Matthew does not always share Rosie’s enthusiasm.
A lovely white deconstructed chair, now in the master bedroom, is a case in point. Rosie found it going free to a good home on Facebook Marketplace. “I said to my husband, ‘look, it’s a free chair’, and he said, ‘we don’t need any more chairs. I’m going to put my foot down, don’t get the chair’.” But Rosie could not resist and had to hide it in the garage. “Months later, when we were moving, I heard this ‘oh, for …’, and the chair was there.”
There are several pieces of antique taxidermy in the house including, in the office, a horse’s head found in Clitheroe and a deer head from Tennants Auctioneers in Leyburn. The antique desk is from Thompsons Auctioneers in Killinghall, near Harrogate.
They both like to find pieces that make them smile, she says, citing as an example a bust on the shelves in the dining room. “He looks in such a bad mood, like his mum wouldn’t let him have chips for tea. He made me laugh, so I bought him.”
In the top bedroom, there are two yellow chairs bought along with a chaise longue from a sale at a manor house in Halifax. The urns were bought online. “Home Sense is my little high street go-to for all the fillers,” Rosie says.
“The things that are fashionable are interchangeable. That’s what I do with my art as well – whatever is fashionable, I create it,” says Rosie.
In the dining room, a large white tureen is from Anthropologie, as is an unusual white ceramic candelabra sculpture featuring animals climbing over each other. This was a wedding gift from Matthew to Rosie. “I saw it in Selfridges in London in the Anthropologie section and I told Matthew all about it and how one day I will have it and, on the morning of our wedding, he had got it,” she says. “Our marriage was off to a very good start.”
Matthew and Rosie have put huge efforts into their renovations and decorations but it is unlikely that this is their forever home. Rosie says: “I always get itchy feet and ideas of bigger and better. I saw one on Right Move that had a ballroom, so now I have got it in my head that I want my next house to have a ballroom – that one sadly sold.
“It always depends on the property as to where we go. We are very taken with Harrogate and the area, but if we find another house with a ballroom, then the ballroom wins.”
See more images of the house and Rosie’s art on Instagram @harrogatehouse and @harrogatehouseinteriors. Artwork is available at www.harrogatehouse.com
Tennants Auctioneers is at Leyburn, North Yorkshire, www.tennants.co.uk
Thompsons Auctioneers is at Killinghall, near Harrogate, www.thompsonsauctioneers.com
Home Sense is at outlets across Yorkshire, see www.homesense.com